By definition, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their home, often, but not always due to conflict. But conflict is just a sanitized and contained word for the reality of those fleeing warfare and persecution. Refugees leave the place they call home not because they want to but because, like each of us, they desire security and a chance to build a life for themselves and family.
Over the course of the past several years I’ve had the privilege of working within refugee and IDP (internally displaced) communities domestically and abroad. I‘ve found human displacement something once experienced impossible to turn away from. Perhaps it is the pure humanity of it all. We all want to be safe. Many of us have never been in a situation where that is in question though. I think being on the ground, in front of people, fleeing the unimaginable, makes something once abstract, as real as you and I.
// Since 2000 nearly 15,000 refugees have resettled in Syracuse.
Most families have fled extreme poverty, environmental disasters, political turmoil, or and have since began life anew, many arriving without a penny or a word of English. These communities, spanning individuals from throughout Africa, The Middle East, Ukraine, Cuba and parts of Asia have become the fabric of many of city’s neighborhoods. What I have come to know of individual stories and journeys to Syracuse stands in sharp contrast to what many may believe about this individually unique group, too often referred to as a single entity — “refugees.”
As a photographer the hope is always that somehow images might be able to impart even a semblance of this feeling on you, cause you to pause and reconsider what you believe and perhaps even get involved.